Thinking of moving your database from your data center to a cloud or managed hosting provider? There are lots of options, and choosing the right cloud migration services for your workload takes research and planning. To get the most business value from your move to the cloud, you need a strategy that minimizes both time to benefit and business risk.

Why move a database to the cloud?

Common reasons for undertaking a cloud database migration include:

  • Reduced operating costs. In the cloud, the cloud service provider (CSP) bears the cost of maintaining, securing, and supporting the physical and virtual infrastructure your databases will run on.
  • Simplified remote access. The public cloud makes it easy to provide database access to remote workers and services.
  • Less security responsibility. Leading public clouds offer comprehensive, multi-layered security controls like data encryption, network protection for remote workers, user activity monitoring (UAM), and threat monitoring/intelligence.
  • Improved scalability. Most clouds can automatically scale data storage and workloads on demand, reducing the overhead associated with manually scaling your infrastructure. 

But the process of migrating databases to the cloud can often exceed time and cost estimates and even lead to security and compliance issues if badly executed. Choosing the right cloud migration services can help streamline key steps and make progress easier to track and manage.

What public cloud should you move to?

A primary consideration that largely dictates what cloud migration services you can pick from is the cloud environment you want to move to.

In some cases, this choice is effectively predetermined. For example, if you are running Microsoft SQL Server workloads and want to keep them in the Microsoft ecosystem, you’ll want to move to Microsoft Azure.  

Similarly, if you use Oracle Database and want to take advantage of the sophisticated cloud migration services that Oracle offers its customers, the best cloud for your workloads might be Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).

Or maybe you want to use Amazon Web Services with its rich landscape of services. If so, you might benefit from expert guidance from a trusted partner on how to structure your Amazon environment, including networking, storage, and server components. For example, not every business is ready to fully leverage the ephemeral nature of some AWS constructs. The best approach might be to move your database workloads to their own individual instances in Amazon EC2. Or for workloads that don’t require their own instances, Amazon RDS can be a good option.

Finally, if a powerful range of cloud migration services is a deciding factor in your choice of a public cloud, consider Google Cloud. Google Cloud offers multiple approaches for migrating Oracle, SQL Server, and other database workloads. Google’s highly rated cloud migration services use AI to help automate repeatable tasks, saving time and reducing the risk of errors.

What is your database migration strategy?

Another factor in which cloud migration services to use is your database migration strategy. Which strategy you pick will depend on related issues, such as whether you plan to clean up your data or institute new data governance processes as part of the migration.

The three basic database migration strategies are:

  1. Big bang—where you transfer all your data from the source database to the target environment in one “all hands on deck” operation, usually timed to coincide with a period of low database usage, like over a weekend. The advantage of a big bang migration is its simplicity. The downside is that downtime will occur, making this approach unsuitable for databases that require 24×7 availability.
  2. Zero-downtime—where you replicate data from the source to the target. This allows you to use the source database during the migration, making it ideal for critical data. This choice can be fast, overall cost-effective, and generally non-disruptive to the business. The downside of the zero-downtime option is the added complexity of setting up replication, and the risk of possible data loss or hiccups in the data movement if something goes wrong.
  3. Trickle—where you break the migration down into bite-sized sub-migrations, each with its own scope and deadlines. This approach makes it easier to confirm success at each phase. If problems occur, at least their scope is limited. Plus, teams can learn as they go and improve from phase to phase. The problem with a trickle migration is it takes more time and also more resources, since you have to operate two systems until completion.

Cloud migration services examples

Once you’ve identified your target cloud environment and your migration strategy, you can start choosing cloud migration services options.

For example, say you plan to move a business-critical Oracle database to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure using a zero-downtime strategy. One of the best cloud migration services options in this case is Oracle Cloud Zero Downtime Migration (ZDM).

A great feature of ZDM is the ability to fallback if necessary. This is Oracle’s preferred automated tool for migrating a database to OCI with no changes to the database type or version. Using a “controlled switchover” approach that includes creating a standby database, ZDM can dynamically move database services to a new virtual or bare metal environment, synchronize the two databases, and then make the target database the primary database.

At the opposite end of the cloud migration services spectrum from Oracle Cloud ZDM is Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Database Migration—a fully managed service that gives customers a self-service experience for migrating databases to OCI. Oracle Cloud Database Migration runs as a managed cloud service separate from the customer’s OCI tenancy and associated resources. Businesses can choose a simple offline migration option (similar to a “big bang” migration) or an enterprise-scale logical migration with minimal downtime (similar to a “trickle” migration). Teams can pause and resume a migration job as needed, such as to conform to a planned maintenance window.

If you want to move your Oracle, SQL Server, or other database workloads to AWS, Amazon offers a comprehensive set of cloud migration services to help automate the process. However, these tools are complex and powerful, and best used by experienced technologists. Be sure to confirm that AWS database sizing and capacity growth parameters meet your needs. You’ll also need to decide whether to use Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) or RDS Custom, depending on the kinds of applications your database supports.

Next steps

While moving databases to the cloud offers many benefits, a high percentage of cloud database migrations falter or fail due to inadequate planning and/or a lack of specific expertise. The top public cloud environments offer purpose-built cloud migration services to streamline the process, but these are not always easy to use. The largest CSPs also support millions of users, so your business may struggle to get the individual attention you need in a timely way.

Whether your databases reside in a major public cloud or a smaller cloud or managed hosting environment, Buda Consulting is always the first point of contact for our clients. Personalized service by someone who knows your business is guaranteed. If there is ever a problem, you call us and we take it from there. 

Contact Buda Consulting to discuss how our cloud and managed hosting migration services can help your business get maximum value from moving to the cloud.